Today, I join our Nation in gathering together with family and loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner. While turkey and stuffing will be served, the sights and sounds will be different from that of many Americans as I spend the holiday with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Manama, Bahrain. There is no better place to express my thanks for all those who place Service before self than sitting alongside those defending our country overseas.
The U.S. Coast Guard must be in lock-step with our Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and other interagency and international partners to be successful in “combating networks” – the first priority of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy. These partnerships were at the forefront as The Interdiction Committee engaged with stakeholders in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia and Honduras last week.
Federal agencies and international partners are working tirelessly in the United States and abroad to combat Transnational Organized Crime networks. These efforts have been instrumental in eradicating production facilities and controlling the purchase of precursor chemicals used to make drugs; interrupting mobility corridors when illegal narcotics are being moved to stockpile locations; and integrating efforts to disrupt drug shipments and the distribution chain to impact the network itself.
“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”
Ask any Coast Guard man or woman and any Marine about Douglas Munro and you will instantly be taken back to the fateful day in 1942 when a Coast Guardsman gave his life so a detachment of Marines might live. To a woman or man, each will recite Munro’s last words to his best friend, Ray Evans, “Did they get off?” In many ways, Munro’s sacrifice is at the very core of the close relationship between the two services. And, all who hear Munro’s story instantly understand the bond between American brothers and sisters in arms and the true meaning of service to nation.
This morning Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft signed the Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy. It addresses transnational threats and maritime challenges that threaten the security of our Nation, markets and oceans over the next 10 years. The Coast Guard is globally deployed, but our primary operating area remains in the Western Hemisphere. As we engage future challenges we must think strategically to best position our resources to leverage our unique authorities, capabilities and partnerships to achieve national objectives across the range of Coast Guard missions.
Sometimes a person gets a weird feeling in the pit of their stomach because there is more to a situation than meets the eye. This feeling is commonly referred to as a person’s “sixth sense.” Coast Guard boarding officers are trained to follow that “sixth sense” while they’re conducting counter narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin. That’s exactly what happened to Petty Officer Matthew Baasch and a boarding team from the Cutter Bertholf when they climbed aboard the fishing vessel Goliat I off the coast of Colombia on June 28.
North Pacific nations are gathering this week to discuss the North Pacific Ocean, the body of water they all border that encompasses 21 percent of the world’s ocean area. The safety and economic security of these nations depends considerably upon the secure use of the ocean; for the large expanse of the North Pacific, this means strong relationships between nations with overlapping sovereignty, economic, security, emergency response and law enforcement concerns in the region. These relationships are bolstered each year through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.
Today, we pause to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. As we remember loved ones who were taken too soon, we honor the strength and courage of those who carry on their legacy. From first responders on the day of the attacks to the first line of defense for our nation today, Coast Guard men and women remain a dedicated force in service to this great Nation.
The 2013 Sexual Assault Prevention Council Annual Report documents the dedicated work of the Council in addressing the problem of sexual assault across four cross-cutting themes, as laid out in the U.S Coast Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2017.